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Hi all,
I got on this site because I don't know much about technology or electricity and need an expert's advice on a little project I'm doing. I'm actually a writer working on a dystopian novel, inspired by the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake, except in my dystopian society, currency isn't minutes- rather, a person's number of breaths. This is accomplished by electrical 'collars' engineered around the necks of civilians that have counters on them to see how fast or frequent a person breathes. These collars can also be used to barter, trade, or buy products by taking away or adding to a person's breath count, shortening (or lengthening) their life. They are also tied to an individual's biosignatures, such as vocal range, heart range, DNA, etc., and are therefore as unique as a finger print.

Rant over, how would a person, the main character, take over an electrical grid as large as this collar system that spans the width and length of America? Again, I know nothing about this kind of stuff, so I need an expert's advice in order to make my story as believable and complex as possible. I assume they would work sort of like cell phones..
Big and bulky or thin and svelte, a collar is 1980's tech. Today, if I wanted to monitor the breathing of 0.5 billion people, I'd design a subcutaneous implant and inject it just above one lung. Everything you need for a display and control panel exists today - in an Apple watch.

But that is today tech. For tomorrow tech, the sensors and control circuits are a paper-thin decal applied to the skin, maybe the size of a playing card. Of course with a visually-stylish surface design like an art tattoo. Wireless recharging built into every bed in the country.

How do you take over the network? How do you take over any network? All, as in A.L.L communications networks, no matter how secure, can be cracked. ALL. All it takes is time and money. If your protagonist is more into action than typing, then the network is controlled in one super-secret, super-secure facility that of course can be found and broken into. More realistically there would be 100 control centers sprinkled around the country with multiple independent interconnections so there is no one point of vulnerability and lotsa ways to recover and heal the network if a center is compromised. Just like the internet 30 years ago.

Or the comm center is in fact a satellite, or constellation of satellites like the GPS system. But, again, that is today-tech.

Or something like that.

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A low power "mesh" network, so all communicate with all others within a limited range, plus all access via all internet connections. (Similar systems are used by such as Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, plus some newer WiFi systems).

Transactions & regular status updates to others in the area and all transferred to the global network when in range of any internet access.

That gives multiple redundancy and allows for both in person and remote transactions.

I agree with AK that collars are a bad and unrealistic idea. You cannot reliably monitor breathing and they are just oversize & gimmicky, for anyone with technical knowledge.

I'd think it would need to be something that senses the ribcage, diaphragm and blood oxygen, to count breaths and estimate depth of breathing. Total air or oxygen use would also be more practical - people can take several shallow breaths or one really deep breath to get the same amount of oxygen intake.

Or go with CO2 exhaled as the "cost"? Penalising that as biological "pollution" could fit better???
A pacemaker today is 1/5 the size of the one my dad had, and speaks wifi. My dog has an ID chip that is scanned by something the size of a pocket calculator. It would be smaller, but the buttons and screen have a minimum useful size.

If we're talking about a slightly-future society, maybe 10-20 years down the road, then the sensor is irrelevant. 20 years is almost three full generations for this kind of tech. Something will be invented that is smaller, lower-power, and just plain better than anything in the research pipeline today. As always, the usefulness is defined by the user interface, not the core. (Side note: that is the o.n.l.y. reason Apple exists today.) Power, environmental mitigation, and I/O. From a story-telling point of view, the tech core is a black box that does whatever you say it does; the details don't matter to the reader.

There would be a command location with the ability to monitor/control all aspects of the system. The locations would probably be in orbit, and each location, with proper authorization, would have the ability to take global control over all the other locations. The story might involve determining where the locations are, who specifically controls/authorizes, and how to reach them. Maybe there is an unknown flaw in each personal monitoring device, that is deadly or dangerous in some way. Maybe, for example, the "flaw" influences brainwave patterns. The technologies involved can be just about anything.
If the device is what kills you when you "run out of breaths", then someone with malicious intent could alter a device counter down to zero, and selectively assassinate anyone, anywhere, any time. Hmmm... Someone should write a book about that.


Given the futuristic setting of your dystopian novel, set 20 years from now, the protagonist's takeover of a vast electrical grid connected to a collar system would involve advanced technology, sophisticated cybersecurity, and cutting-edge infiltration methods. Here’s a detailed, futuristic plan:

Step 1: Advanced Research and Reconnaissance​

  1. AI-Powered Analysis: Utilize AI to analyze the grid's structure and identify weaknesses. AI can simulate various attack scenarios to find the most effective strategies.
  2. Drones and Surveillance: Deploy advanced drones for physical surveillance of critical infrastructure, mapping out security measures, and identifying entry points.
  3. Quantum Computing: Leverage quantum computers to crack encryption faster and access secure communications and databases.

Step 2: Assemble a Highly Skilled Team​

  1. AI Specialists: Include experts in artificial intelligence who can manipulate and counter AI defences.
  2. Cybersecurity Experts: Recruit elite hackers proficient in post-quantum cryptography to breach advanced security systems.
  3. Biohackers: Integrate biohackers who understand the biometric data tied to the collars and can exploit these vulnerabilities.
  4. Engineers and Technologists: Ensure the team includes engineers who can handle the physical and cyber infrastructure.

Step 3: Create Futuristic Diversions​

  1. Virtual Reality (VR) Distractions: Use VR to create large-scale distractions, such as virtual protests or fake crises, drawing attention away from the main objective.
  2. Augmented Reality (AR) Sabotage: Employ AR to manipulate security personnel's perceptions, causing confusion and misdirection.

Step 4: Infiltrate the Grid Using Advanced Methods​

  1. Nano-Technology: Utilize nanobots to infiltrate and disable physical security systems from within.
  2. Holographic Disguises: Use holographic technology to create convincing disguises, allowing team members to pass as authorized personnel.

Step 5: Overcome Futuristic Security Measures​

  1. Adaptive AI Hacking: Deploy AI that can learn and adapt in real time to counteract advanced security protocols and firewalls.
  2. Biometric Spoofing: Use advanced techniques to spoof biometric systems, such as voice recognition, heart rate monitors, and DNA scanners.

Step 6: Execute the Takeover with Precision​

  1. Quantum Network Manipulation: Take control of the quantum network that manages the grid and the collars, ensuring the protagonist can control all communication and data flow.
  2. Smart Infrastructure Control: Use IoT (Internet of Things) devices to manipulate the smart infrastructure, gaining control over power distribution and collar management systems.

Step 7: Secure the Collars with Advanced Control​

  1. Blockchain Technology: Implement changes to the collar network using blockchain for secure and unalterable modifications, ensuring the changes are permanent and tamper-proof.
  2. AI-Driven Adjustments: Use AI to recalibrate the collars, adjust breath counts, deactivate collars, or alter transaction protocols.

Step 8: Consolidate Power in a High-Tech Society​

  1. Advanced Defense Systems: Establish control using advanced defence systems, including automated drones, AI security, and quantum encryption.
  2. Mass Communication via Neural Networks: Communicate with the public through advanced neural networks, ensuring the message reaches everyone quickly and efficiently.

Futuristic Considerations for Plot Development​

  1. Ethical AI Dilemmas: Explore the ethical implications of using AI in warfare and control.
  2. Technological Allies and Adversaries: Develop subplots involving other tech-savvy groups or corporations that either support or oppose the protagonist.
  3. Unexpected Tech Failures and Innovations: Introduce plot twists involving unexpected failures of advanced technology or innovative solutions that turn the tide.
  4. Human and Machine Interactions: Focus on the interactions between humans and advanced machines, highlighting societal changes and personal impacts.
This approach incorporates advanced technologies and futuristic elements to create a compelling and believable narrative of a protagonist taking over an extensive electrical grid and collar system 20 years from now.

Tony &

Technological Infrastructure​

  1. Breath Counters: Each person wears a collar equipped with sensors that monitor their breath count. These sensors track every breath taken and convert it into a digital currency system.
  2. Biosignature Integration: The collars are programmed to recognize and authenticate the individual based on multiple biosignatures:
    • Vocal Range: Voice recognition software in the collar authenticates transactions by matching the person's unique vocal patterns.
    • Heart Range: Heartbeat sensors monitor and verify the user’s unique heart rate patterns.
    • DNA: The collar periodically samples and analyzes skin cells to verify the DNA of the wearer.

Transaction System​

  1. Digital Currency Conversion: Each breath is translated into a unit of digital currency. The rate at which breaths are converted can be dynamically adjusted based on economic factors or individual health metrics.
  2. Trading and Bartering: Transactions occur through secure, wireless communication between the collars and transaction terminals:
    • Bartering: Two individuals can sync their collars to transfer breath counts directly. This can be done through a handshake-like gesture or proximity-based transfer.
    • Buying Products: Retail terminals are equipped with scanners that communicate with the collars. When a person makes a purchase, the terminal deducts the corresponding number of breaths from their collar.

Security and Privacy​

  1. Encrypted Communications: All data transmitted between collars and transaction terminals are encrypted using advanced quantum encryption to prevent hacking and ensure privacy.
  2. AI Monitoring: An AI system continuously monitors transactions for suspicious activity, such as unauthorized transfers or biometric mismatches, to prevent fraud.
  3. Failsafes: Collars are equipped with failsafe mechanisms that can lock the device in case of tampering or if the wearer’s biosignatures don’t match the recorded data.

Practical Implementation​

  1. Daily Life: In everyday life, individuals use their breath counts much like a debit card. They might transfer breaths for services, goods, or favors. For example:
    • Purchasing Food: At a grocery store, the collar communicates with the store’s terminal to deduct breaths corresponding to the price of the food items.
    • Paying for Transport: Public transportation systems have terminals that deduct breaths when a person boards a bus or train.
    • Medical Services: Hospitals and clinics can add breaths to a person’s count as part of their salary or as compensation for participating in clinical trials.
  2. Bartering and Trading: In less formal settings, people trade breaths directly. For instance:
    • Services Exchange: Someone might offer to repair a neighbor's device in exchange for a certain number of breaths.
    • Informal Markets: Street vendors and informal markets use portable terminals to facilitate breath transactions without the need for centralized infrastructure.

Impact on Society​

  1. Social Stratification: The breath economy creates a new form of social stratification based on breath wealth, with the wealthy able to afford more goods and services, thereby potentially living longer.
  2. Health and Breathing Efficiency: Innovations in health and fitness focus on maximizing breathing efficiency, with technology and treatments aimed at reducing breath consumption.
  3. Ethical Issues: The system raises ethical questions about life value, economic disparity, and the morality of trading life expectancy.
By integrating advanced technology and biometric data into everyday transactions, your dystopian society’s breath economy becomes a complex, self-sustaining system that deeply impacts every aspect of life, from social structure to daily interactions.
I like the mesh network idea but only 1/10 of the population is randomly assigned to be a "node" and the rest are purely clients and their collars must connect to a node. It could add to your plot line of either (a) the population knows who the nodes are and the nodes are ostracized, or (b) the nodes are unknown and good or bad things can happen but not reported into the mesh network until someone (a node) arrives into the range of the collars.
That'll put an end to jogging and gyms.
AAA (As An Aside), don't all mammals have approximately the same number of heartbeats? I.E large size= slow heartbeat and long life - Elephants and small size= fast heartbeat and short life - mice. Or is this a myth? If true maybe saving heartbeats is a good idea - no running for the bus (or morning sex:() etc.

That'll put an end to jogging and gyms.
AAA (As An Aside), don't all mammals have approximately the same number of heartbeats? I.E large size= slow heartbeat and long life - Elephants and small size= fast heartbeat and short life - mice. Or is this a myth? If true maybe saving heartbeats is a good idea - no running for the bus (or morning sex:() etc.

It's a wide range. 2B to 3B heartbeats. The exercise and sex have to be balanced against the resulting lower resting heartbeat. I know some fidgety nervous people who could use some exercise and/or sex.
I think this project is something close to what you have mentioned.
This is basically a breathing sensor. This is made with Arduino Uno. But if you want to make the whole setup wearable, you can use Arduino lilypad. This is a wearable Arduino board. It is washable and sewable too.


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